Misinformation, lack of trust hampering Washington wolf management efforts

Free flow of information missing from wolf policy

from Capital Press

Courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife A wolf is seen in this file photo.The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is removing members of the Profanity Peak pack, but only releasing information once a week, causing a void.

Managing wildlife ­— especially hot button predators such as wolves — requires total openness on the part of all parties. Ranchers, conservationists, members of the public and even critics need to have access to timely and accurate information.

By trying to manage information, officials in Washington state are creating a void that has been filled by rumors and misinformed opinions.

The folks at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have found that out the hard way.

They established a policy of releasing information once a week about their efforts to remove the Profanity Peak wolfpack after it repeatedly killed cattle in the area.

It could be expected that some opponents of removal would not like the removal decision. The fact that the agency choked off information about the management efforts only inflamed those passions.

Others, including a Washington State University carnivore researcher, jumped into the fray, providing “facts” that weren’t accurate and further fanning the flames.

As a result, the ranchers and the wildlife managers have even received death threats and WDFW had a full-on crisis on its hands.

We rarely agree with what the Center for Biological Diversity says about wolves, but at a recent rally one of the group’s representatives made sense.

The center’s Amaroq Weiss told others at the rally that nobody should be threatened.

“That has no place in this discussion at all,” she told our reporter afterward.

The tragedy of recent events is magnified by the fact that the state spent $800,000 to reboot its wolf advisory group in an effort to open a civilized discussion of wolf management.

The members of the group — representing ranchers, conservationists and others — were ultimately able to forge a working relationship. They even developed a new policy for removing wolves that repeatedly kill livestock.

All of that hard work is now at risk.

The free flow of timely and accurate information is the only way to restore any level of trust in the department, its policies and its managers.

The WDFW must provide information on wolf removal and other developments when they happen and let everyone know why.

Free Range Report Admin.

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